Midfielder playing well at London Olympics
If only it were so easy for Andy Najar to secure both a dream international transfer and a medal at the Olympics.
The stage has been set for the D.C. United midfielder, who will play for Honduras' under-23 national team against Brazil in a high-profile Olympic quarterfinal Saturday in Newcastle, England. The test couldn't be much more difficult for the Central American underdogs.
|Crew at D.C. United|
|When » Saturday, 7:30 p.m.|
|Where » RFK Stadium|
|TV » CSN|
Add in a tight transfer market and the precedent Major League Soccer would hope to set for the first sale of a "homegrown" player, and the chances of making all the pieces fall into place appear slim.
Then again, should Najar score a goal or two against the best team in the world, he might just become irresistible for a team like Tottenham Hotspur, with whom he trained last winter, or another European club.
For now, the phones haven't yet rung in any official capacity.
"Andy's performance, with all of the Honduras team, has been really good and surprised a lot of people," said Chris Megaloudis, Najar's agent. "I don't think any of the Honduran players have had the kind of game where they've become a must-have. They're more likely to be judged on the tournament as a whole. But clubs are watching. We know that."
United (10-7-3), which returns to league play after its second two-week break of the summer, would prefer to think it hasn't skipped a beat without the 19-year-old. Chris Pontius, coming off solid performances in the MLS All-Star Game and against Paris Saint-Germain, has moved seamlessly from forward to wide midfield. With a 7-0-2 mark in MLS play at RFK Stadium since a season-opening loss to Sporting Kansas City, D.C. United is anxious for revenge against the Crew (8-7-4), which dealt United its most recent defeat in Columbus on July 21.
But Najar's absence also has coincided with United's stretch of three losses (all on the road) in its last four matches. Najar missed the last two games and played 20 minutes off the bench in a 3-2 defeat at New York on June 24.
The club has been cheering on Najar from afar, perhaps no player more than goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who himself had expected to be in the Olympics with the U.S. team. Instead, he's hoping to regain his starting spot after a red card ejection against Houston on July 15. Only playing time will boost his international stock.
"Anything can happen," Hamid said. "I just want to keep working hard and playing well. I've still got a lot of prove. I know how good I am, and I still feel like I haven't showed the best of me, the best of Bill. In terms of transfers, I'm just going to let fate take its course and let my hard work be the judge of that."